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Uster / Nieder-Uster, Switzerland

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Uster / Nieder-Uster, Switzerland
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Verones F.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Bare J.,U S WEST | Bulle C.,University of Quebec at Montréal | Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd | And 21 more authors.
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2017

Increasing needs for decision support and advances in scientific knowledge within life cycle assessment (LCA) led to substantial efforts to provide global guidance on environmental life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) indicators under the auspices of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. As part of these efforts, a dedicated task force focused on addressing several LCIA cross-cutting issues as aspects spanning several impact categories, including spatiotemporal aspects, reference states, normalization and weighting, and uncertainty assessment. Here, findings of the cross-cutting issues task force are presented along with an update of the existing UNEP-SETAC LCIA emission-to-damage framework. Specific recommendations are provided with respect to metrics for human health (Disability Adjusted Life Years, DALY) and ecosystem quality (Potentially Disappeared Fraction of species, PDF). Additionally, we stress the importance of transparent reporting of characterization models, reference states, and assumptions, in order to facilitate cross-comparison between chosen methods and indicators. We recommend developing spatially regionalized characterization models, whenever the nature of impacts shows spatial variability and related spatial data are available. Standard formats should be used for reporting spatially differentiated models, and choices regarding spatiotemporal scales should be clearly communicated. For normalization, we recommend using external normalization references. Over the next two years, the task force will continue its effort with a focus on providing guidance for LCA practitioners on how to use the UNEP-SETAC LCIA framework as well as for method developers on how to consistently extend and further improve this framework. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


Perez-Lopez P.,MINES ParisTech | Gschwind B.,MINES ParisTech | Blanc P.,MINES ParisTech | Frischknecht R.,treeze Ltd | And 5 more authors.
Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications | Year: 2017

Solar photovoltaics (PV) is the second largest source of new capacity among renewable energies. The worldwide capacity encompassed 135 GW in 2013 and is estimated to increase to 1721 GW in 2030 and 4674 GW in 2050, according to a prospective high-renewable scenario. To achieve this production level while minimizing environmental impacts, decision makers must have access to environmental performance data that reflect their high spatial variability accurately. We propose ENVI-PV (http://viewer.webservice-energy.org/project_iea), a new interactive tool that provides maps and screening level data, based on weighted average supply chains, for the environmental performance of common PV technologies. Environmental impacts of PV systems are evaluated according to a life cycle assessment approach. ENVI-PV was developed using a state-of-the-art interoperable and open standard Web Service framework from the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). It combines the latest life cycle inventories, published in 2015 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) under the Photovoltaic Power Systems Program (PVPS) Task 12, and some inventories previously published from Ecoinvent v2.2 database with solar irradiation estimates computed from the worldwide NASA SSE database. ENVI-PV is the first tool to propose a worldwide coverage of environmental performance of PV systems using a multi-criteria assessment. The user can compare the PV environmental performance to the environmental footprint of country electricity mixes. ENVI-PV is designed as an environmental interactive tool to generate PV technological options and evaluate their performance in different spatial and techno-economic contexts. Its potential applications are illustrated in this paper with several examples. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Kagi T.,Carbotech AG | Dinkel F.,Carbotech AG | Frischknecht R.,treeze Ltd | Humbert S.,Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | And 5 more authors.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2016

There is a strong demand for simple, understandable and clear LCA outcomes to support decision-making especially in the context of policy-making or company management. The debate is ongoing as to whether clarity and simplicity may be obtained by adopting either LCA endpoint or even single score methods. As a contribution to this debate, a session was organised to discuss the use of midpoint, endpoint or single score indicators in support of the decision making process. The session, comprising 10 presentations about different aspects of this topic, concluded with a 40 minute panel discussion. Most authors who contributed to this SETAC Europe LCA session concluded there was a need for endpoint or single score assessment (and transparent communication of the same) for sound and effective decision-making support. This may be the better option than letting the decision makers choose the relevant impacts subjectively. But endpoint or single score results do not mean that midpoint indicators have no value. Even though endpoint or single score indicators can be very helpful in decision support, midpoint indicators help identify issues of specific environmental concern (e.g. climate change, acidification or water scarcity). © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd | Wyss F.,Cantonal Administration of Appenzell Innerrhoden | Busser Knopfel S.,Treeze Ltd | Lutzkendorf T.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Balouktsi M.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2015

Purpose: Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) is today an important methodology to quantify the life cycle based environmental impacts of products, services or organisations. Since the very first LCA studies, the cumulative energy demand CED (also called ‘primary energy consumption’) has been one of the key indicators being addressed. Despite its popularity, there is no harmonised approach yet and the standards and guidelines define the cumulative energy demand differently. In this paper, an overview of existing and applied life cycle based energy indicators and a unifying approach to establish characterisation factors for the cumulative energy demand indicator are provided. The CED approaches are illustrated in a building’s LCA case study. Methods: The five approaches are classified into two main concepts, namely the energy harvested and the energy harvestable concepts. The two concepts differ by the conversion efficiency of the energy collecting facility. A unifying ‘energy harvested’ approach is proposed based on four theses, which ensure consistent accounting among renewable and non renewable energy resources. Results and discussion: The indicator proposed is compared to four other CED indicators, differing in the characterisation factors of fossil and biomass resources (upper or lower heating value), the characterisation factor of uranium and the characterisation factors of renewable energy resources (amount harvested or amount harvestable). The comparison of the five approaches is based on the cumulative energy demand of a newly constructed building of the city of Zürich covering the whole life cycle, including manufacturing and construction, replacement and use phase, and end of life. The cumulative energy demand of the life cycle of the building differs between 336 MJ oil-eq/m2a (‘CED uranium low’) and 836 MJ oil-eq/m2a (‘CED energy statistics’). The main differences occur in the use phase. The main reason for the large differences in the results are the different concepts to determine the characterisation factors for renewable and nuclear energy resources. Conclusions: The energy harvested approach ‘CED standard’ is a consistent approach, which quantifies the energy content of all different (renewable and non-renewable) energy resources. The ‘CED standard’ approach and the impact category indicator results computed with this approach reflect the safeguard subject ‘energy resources’ but not (no other) environmental impacts. The energy harvested approach proposed in this paper can readily be implemented in different contexts and applied to various data sets. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd. | Itten R.,Treeze Ltd. | Ehrenberg H.,NAUE GmbH and Co. KG | Von Maubeuge K.P.,NAUE GmbH and Co. KG
10th International Conference on Geosynthetics, ICG 2014 | Year: 2014

Environmental concerns become more and more important in the building sector, especially in civil engineering works. The new Construction Products Regulation 305/2011 of the European Union addresses the sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection. It requires a life cycle approach by considering the environmental impacts of construction works including raw material extraction, construction, use and demolition. Environmental product declarations are one recommended means to address these requirements. Environmental product declarations (EPD) of several different NAUE products have been established. The EPD includes the quantification of environmental impacts, specific energy consumption and material use. The environmental impacts caused by geogrids are mainly influenced by the raw material supply and the manufacturing of the product. Upstream logistics are of little importance whereas downstream logistics (shipments to the customers) and construction can contribute up to 30 % to the overall environmental impacts. Being a standardized life cycle assessment EPDs can contribute to harmonise the modelling approaches and to improve the comparability of the environmental performance of the products analysed. With the knowledge gained by establishing EPDs of their products, manufacturers are able to offer environmentally optimised civil engineering construction works, to continuously reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing and to select environmentally conscious suppliers.


Wallbaum H.,Chalmers University of Technology | Busser S.,Treeze Ltd. | Itten R.,Treeze Ltd. | Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd.
10th International Conference on Geosynthetics, ICG 2014 | Year: 2014

Geosynthetic materials are used in many different applications in the civil and underground engineering. In most cases, the use of geosynthetic material replaces the use of other materials. On behalf of the European Association for Geosynthetic Manufacturers (EAGM) the authors quantified the environmental performance of commonly applied construction materials (such as concrete, cement, lime or gravel) versus geosynthetics. To this end a set of comparative life cycle assessment studies are carried out, according to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, concentrating on various application cases, namely filtration, foundation stabilised road, landfill construction and slope retention. The environmental performance of geosynthetics is compared to the performance of competing construction materials used. The environmental impacts of the full life cycle of the four cases show overall the following results: • A filter using a geosynthetic layer causes lower impacts compared to a conventional gravel based filter layer with regard to all impact category indicators investigated. • A conventional road causes higher impacts compared to a road reinforced with geosynthetics with regard to all impact category indicators. • A geosynthetic drainage layer causes lower environmental impacts compared to a gravel based drainage layer in all impact categories considered except land competition which is about the same in both cases. • A geosynthetic reinforced wall causes lower environmental impacts compared to a reinforced concrete wall in all impact categories considered.


Frischknecht R.,treeze Ltd. | Stolz P.,treeze Ltd. | Tschumperlin L.,treeze Ltd.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2016

The 59th LCA forum was held on 12 June, 2015 to discuss the situation with regard to national environmental footprints and their relation to planetary boundaries and to the global carrying capacity. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. Several approaches of how to quantify a safe operating space of the Earth were presented, such as the planetary boundary concept published by Rockström et al. (Nature 462:472–475, 2009) and the ecological footprint (Bastianoni et al. 2013). Several presenters showed how they transformed environmental planetary boundaries to national and per capita allowances. In a research project funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment safe and unsafe areas were determined by combining the level of overshoot, the level of confidence in the information and the trend in the environmental load. The areas of climate change, biodiversity losses and nitrogen losses show a large overshoot on a global level but also from the point of view of Swiss consumption. Other organizations use the planetary boundary concept to identify companies which qualify for environmentally sustainable funds. Finally, life cycle impact assessment methods are being developed using the planetary boundary concept. The weighting step is based on the level of overshoot, which is close to “distance to target” approaches. It was discussed that the nine planetary boundaries face some consistency and operationalisation problems. For instance, land use changes cause biodiversity losses, which is a planetary boundary parameter in its own. Chemical pollution on the other hand is a general topic, for which a quantification approach has to be developed first (load as well as its planetary boundary). The discussion forum showed that individual countries and political entities like the European Union start monitoring their consumption based environmental footprint. Within this context, approaches and concepts are needed to define the environmentally safe operating space. The LCA forum showed that there is still basic research needed to reliably and consistently quantify relevant planetary boundaries (avoiding overlapping indicators) and to transfer these boundaries to per capita allowances. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Kono J.,Chalmers University of Technology | Goto Y.,Chalmers University of Technology | Ostermeyer Y.,Chalmers University of Technology | Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd. | Wallbaum H.,Chalmers University of Technology
Key Engineering Materials | Year: 2016

Thermal insulation material is an important component to reduce the environmental impact of buildings through the reduction of energy consumption in the operation phase. However, the material itself has embodied environmental impacts for the value it provides. Eco-efficiency is a method that quantifies relation between the environmental performance and the created value of a product system. This study investigated contributing factors of the eco-efficiency of thermal insulation materials to support decision making of material manufacturers. For the improvement of eco-efficiency, the assessment was made in two scopes: investigating the contributing factors of impact caused at production processes; and thermal performance through thermo-physical properties. For quantifying environmental impacts, cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of each materials were made. The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) indicators used were ReCiPe H/A and global warming potential (GWP100a). For the assessment of production process, the inventories of the materials were assigned to six categories: heat, chemicals, electricity, transportation, raw materials and wastes. Among the assessed materials, contribution of electricity and heat within the production process was large for foam glass which had the highest potential to improve the eco-efficiency which was by factor 1.72. The analysis on relation between thermophysical properties and eco-efficiency based on product data of the materials highlighted the importance of density as an indicator upon development and use. Althoughdensity often gains less attention,the finding suggested the effectiveness of improving the efficiency by having lower density without compensating the performance of the materials. © 2016 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland.


Frischknecht R.,Treeze Ltd. | Knopfel S.B.,Treeze Ltd.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2014

The 54th LCA forum was held on December 5, 2013 to launch the fourth generation ecological scarcity method, applied to Switzerland. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. The ecological scarcity method belongs to the family of distance-to-target methods and is based on politically and legally defined environmental goals. The application of the method in industry and politics as well as its benefits, the main elements of the method and new elements such as the assessment of abiotic resources, global land use, noise and nuclear waste are presented. The losses (and not the extraction) of abiotic resources are characterised with the abiotic depletion potential. Land use impacts on flora and fauna biodiversity are quantified per land use type and for 14 different biomes. Transport noise is assessed based on the number of highly annoyed persons. Finally, nuclear waste is characterised using the radio toxicity index, a parameter commonly used in the nuclear industry. In three policy-making areas, LCA in general and the ecological scarcity method in particular are being applied: waste policy, biofuels tax exemption and Green Economy. Practical applications in administration and industry show that the eco-factors are considered useful in decision making because they cover a broad range of environmental impacts aggregated to a single score. The results of first applications and comparisons showed that the switch from third to fourth generation eco-factors hardly affects the results and conclusions although there are some significant changes in the eco-factor of individual pollutants. It was concluded that the fourth generation is a moderate evolution from the third generation published in 2008. It is considered crucial to allow for single-score methods as they allow to assess environmental impacts comprehensively and to identify environmental hot spots. The method presented thus is suited for a "true and fair" reporting on environmental information. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.


Frischknecht R.,treeze Ltd | Wyss F.,treeze Ltd | Knopfel S.B.,treeze Ltd | Stolz P.,treeze Ltd
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Year: 2015

The 57th life cycle assessment (LCA) forum was held on December 2, 2014 to discuss the European and Swiss situation with regard to the environmental assessment of buildings. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. Several methodological approaches exist to assess the environmental assessment of buildings. In Switzerland, all technical bulletins of the Swiss Society of Architects and Engineers (SIA) related to this topic and most labels and certification schemes rely on the KBOB recommendation 2009/1:2014, which in turn is based on the ecoinvent database. In Europe, the standards on environmental product declarations (EPD) of construction products and buildings and the guide on product environmental footprints published by the European Commission are applied. In Austria, France and Germany, environmental product declarations form an important part of certification schemes of buildings. The European construction product directive names the quantification of the environmental performance as one of the seven basic requirements on construction works. This basic requirement needs now to be embedded into the harmonised technical specifications (such as harmonised European Standards, hEN or European Technical Assessments (ETA)). The situation in Austria, France and Germany illustrates the diversity of European labels, certifications and information schemes even though they all refer to the European EPD standards. France for instance asks for requirements additional to the European Standards, and several labels using different life cycle assessment databases are in operation in Austria. On the other hand, the two main certification schemes in Germany use the same approach, indicators and database. Several initiatives are ongoing or being launched in Europe which try to further harmonise the environmental assessment of buildings and construction materials. The different presentations showed the variety of applications of life cycle-based environmental information in the planning process of buildings, ranging from conceptual decisions to suppliers’ choices, decisions on materialisation up to labelling and certification of built properties. It was concluded that unifying life cycle inventory methodology, environmental indicators and life cycle inventory background databases is most important in view of further harmonisation. At the same time, it was admitted that harmonisation in these areas is difficult if not out of reach. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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